This weekend it’s a time to celebrate what makes our country great. "The peacefully loving, free-healthcare-using, polite-hockey-rioting nation of maple-syrup drinking, beaver-loving, polar-bear-infested igloo-living citizens to the north" as our American coustns might say.
I think it’s funny how we call Americans neighbours, when really they’re family. After watching a week of History Channel and documentaries on the War of 1812, our country was founded by Americans who wanted nothing to do with the 13 colonies, and wanted to stay with the crown. Long war, nobody wins, Laura Secord, White House burns, yada yada and ta-da: a nation is born.
We pay very close attention to what is happening south of us, most of us know more about them then they do about us, and quite frankly this stings. It comes across as ignorant and disrespectful, and collectively I’m going to say it is one of our national pet peeves.
It’s the arrogant, self-centered brother who comes to visit, gets drunk and brings a girl home from the bar, packs up Sunday and says "thanks for everything" after you’ve rolled out the red carpet. And it really stings when that same brother can’t remember your kids’ names.
Some might say "why should they?" The answer is pilasophical and economic. Because we share history and a home. Remember this: that foreign oil you all think is nasty because it comes from Iraq or Saudi Arabia? Canada sells you more oil to you than all other importers combined. So China may be your Walmart, but we’re your gas station. And besides friendly gas jockeys and clean bathrooms, you aren’t going far without gas in the tank eh?
But I digress. On this Canada Day Long weekend, time to answer some actual questions asked of tourism officials, Parks Canada reps, and friends on Facebook. I will attempt to help answer some of them now:
I am an American citizen. Do I need a passport to come to Canada?
Yes. Not an NRA membership card, your private health insurance card or your Sam’s Club photo ID card. We like looking at these cards because they are foreign to us, but will not allow you into Canada.
Which state are you from?
Our states are called provinces. Our zip codes are postal codes and most restaurants are NOT buffet.
Do you own a moose?
Used to. Traded it in for a deer, named John. Get it? (sorry)
Does Your Eskimo uncle still live in an igloo?
We prefer to call them "ice houses". And yes he does. And since our banking system is regulated, his $1,000 igloo is still worth $1,000, and not $1 and some popsicle coupons.
Do you have maple syrup in your fridge?
Right next to the salad dressing. You know, the stuff you put on salad. What’s salad you ask? That green leafy stuff in the buffet that ... ah ... let’s just move on.
Are you related to Jim Carrey?
We are a small country in numbers, and Canada is aboriginal for "village" but no, we don’t know or are related to Jim Carrey. However every Canadian knows, has met or is related to someone who plays professional hockey for a U.S. NHL team.
Why do you say A-boot and EH?
French influce on the boot. It’s the "ou" pronunciation. As for eh, since you’all are not good listeners it’s a way for us to check and see if you’re paying attention to the stuff coming out of our frost-bitten peace-loving mouths.
Does your country have a president/army?
We have "President’s Choice" and the Salvation Army. The Prime Minister is in charge of the government and we have Armed Forces. No we don’t use the subs from the West Edmonton Mall. And we love our military just as much as you do. They’re not as busy invading other countries as you might be, but we love them just as much.
You got cable in Canada?
Yes. However that uncle in the igloo is still working on it. It think we’re up to a whole 22 channels now. Still kinda fuzzy picture though. Is Denzel Washington your president now?
Does it snow in Canadian summer?
Yes. In Gillam just days ago they got 21 centimeters. (No joke. Wish it was. However my cousin from Hawaii asked how long it would take to drive him to see it.)
How does your free healthcare work?
Get sick, go to the doctor. However sometimes you have to wait for surgery. What is wait you ask? That’s where you sit and just allow the other person to go, maybe another until its your turn. It requires patience. Often a great deal of patience. Maybe that’s why they call people getting medical treatment patients.
Are you American?
Yes. North American. However my passport says Canada. (See question one about passports for travel.)
Do Canadians who want to be successful move to the USA?
Many do. Because you have a lot of money and warm weather. Those who are successful, and want to make big money, but like snow move to a place called Alberta.
Is this the part of Canada that speaks French, or is that Saskatchewan?
You’re thinking of Quebec. In Saskatchewan, they speak English, and they sssspeeeeaaakkkkk sssssllllllooooowwwwyyyyyy. (football fans only)
If I go to B.C., do I have to go through Ontario?
If you’re coming through a crossing at Michigan or New York, yes. Oregon through Ontario would be a waste of gas, but a fun road trip nevertheless.
Which is the way to the Columbia Ricefields?
East. Way east. As in far east. Here is the icefields. And before you ask, it’s a glacier and NOT where we grow a crop of ice.
What's the best way to see Canada in a day?
From an airplane. Newfoundland to Vancouver flight time is 5 hours, 30 minutes. This will show you most of the country from 30,000 feet. Not the way to go. You’ll miss the centre of the country/universe (Toronto), wheat fields and oil rigs.
Do they search you at the Canadian border?
Never. Just tell them you want the "rubber glove". This is a customary greeting from our officials, but instead of a regular high-five or fist-bump, its more intrusive, yet intimate.
When we enter B.C. do we have to convert our money to British pounds?
Of course. Does "the south" still use wooden nickels?
Are there phones in Banff?
Yes, one. Right next to the outhouse on Main Street. Waterworks are coming soon, so those poor people will finally get a "loo and and a phone too."
So it's eight kilometres away ... is that in miles?
Where can I get my husband really, REALLY, lost?
See: Border search question above. Tell border agent your husband is trying to start a pharmacy in Canada with product from Columbia. Ta-da! Husband go bye-bye.
How do you get your lakes so blue?
TRUE: Jokingly a Parks Canada official said "We take the water out in the winter and paint the bottom". Tourist response: "Wow, that’s cool!"
Happy Canada Day, and enjoy one of our many painted-bottom lakes!
Michelle Engelbretson Houseman
Tracee Corenna Schwartz
Joke of the Week
An American decided to write a book about famous churches. So he bought a plane ticket and took a trip to Orlando, thinking that he would work his way across the country from South to North. On his first day inside a church taking pictures, he noticed a golden telephone mounted on the wall with a sign that read "$1,000 per call."
He asked a priest strolling by what the telephone was for. The priest said it was a direct line to heaven and that for $1,000 you could talk to God. The American thanked the priest and went along his way.
Next stop was in Atlanta. There, at a very large cathedral, he saw the same golden telephone. A nun again told him for $1,000 he could talk directly to God by phone. He then traveled to Indianapolis, Washington, Philadelphia, Boston, and New York. Every church had the same golden telephone with the "$1,000 per call" sign.
The American leaves Vermont and sees a sign for Canada and decided to see if Canadians had the same phone. He arrived in OTTAWA, and again, there was the same golden telephone, but this time the sign under it read "10 cents per call."
The American was surprised so he asked the priest about the sign.
"Father, I’ve traveled all over America and I've seen this same golden telephone in many churches. I'm told that it is a direct line to Heaven, but in every state the price was $1,000 per call. Why is it so cheap here?"
The priest smiled and answered, "You’re in Canada now, son. It's a local call."
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition June 30, 2012