Friday, July 1, 2011

O Canada

Today is Canada Day.

Although I was born in Austria, I grew up in Canada, having immigrated at the tender age of three, and I consider myself to be a Canadian, proudly and unashamedly so. And so, to honour my adopted homeland on her 144th birthday, I offer the following list of reasons why it's great to be Canadian.

  1. Smarties, Crispy Crunch and Coffee Crisp are three of the finest chocolate bars (not "candy bars") in the world. All are easily found in Canada and none are available in the U.S.A. For that matter, Americans seem confused about their chocolate bars in general. Their Mars bar, which was also completely unavailable from 2002 until just last year, includes peanuts. Canadian Mars bars have been peanut-free since 2006. The U.S. Snickers bar is actually closer in its ingredients to the Canadian Mars bar, albeit not as sweet, but it is decidedly different from the Canadian Snickers bar, which is closer to the U.S. 3 Musketeers bar. And don't get me started about Kinder Surprise Eggs. Not only are they not available in the U.S.A., they're actively prohibited, having apparently been classified as weapons of mass nougat!

  2. The Canadian football field is both longer and wider than its American counterpart (110 yards long by 65 yards wide) and yet Canadian teams have only three downs to cover ten yards rather than four, meaning that Canadian football players are probably generally more fit than their American cousins, since they have to cover more distance in less time. Our balls are bigger as well, as is the regulation pigskin.

  3. Baseball, the "Great American Game" is actually Canadian. One of the earliest recorded games that bore a closer resemblance to modern baseball than to the U.K.'s Cricket or Rounders was played in Beachville, Ontario in 1838, a full seven years before Abner Doubleday supposedly invented the sport in 1845. Mind you, there were five bases (called "byes" at the time) as opposed to three (there's that Canadian penchant for doing everything bigger again) but the game was clearly an ancestor of modern baseball.

  4. As long as we're appropriating long-standing icons of American culture, apple pie was originally an English dessert and, as Canada maintains closer cultural ties with the U.K. than does America, I maintain that apple pie is much more Canadian than it is American.

  5. No matter what our cultural, political or philosophical differences, be we anglophone or francophone, Christian or Muslim, male or female, black or white, rich or poor, there is one thing about which all Canadians can agree, and that is Tim Horton's Donuts. "Timmy's" is the institution which bonds and unites all Canadians. It's not just a place to get our morning wake-up jolt of java. We meet there socially. We commune there. We discuss sports, politics, family and the economy there. In 2001, Krispy Kreme Donuts made an aggressive move into Canada. Speculation was rife as to whether Tim Horton's might actually be facing some serious competition. Even Tim Horton's itself showed early signs of nervousness as they switched their traditional "shoe box" container, which used to hold a dozen of their donuts, to a wider, shallower box designed to imitate Krispy Kreme's. Today, of the 18 Krispy Kreme stores that opened in Canada, out of 32 planned, 4 remain. Tim Horton's never even broke a sweat.

  6. Music. Gordon Lightfoot, Joni Mitchell, Anne Murray, Bryan Adams, Burton Cummings, Randy Bachman, Neil Young, Rush, Trooper, Celine Dion, Ian Thomas, Carol Pope, Shania Twain, the Rankins, Gino Vannelli, Bruce Cockburn ... the list goes on. Canadian musicians and singers rank right up there among the world's finest, and they have to work about ten times as hard as their American counterparts to get exposure. As Ian Thomas once quipped, being a Canadian performer means never quitting your day job.

  7. While Americans were still whuppin' slaves, Canada was smuggling them out of the U.S. and welcoming them as citizens.

  8. Canadian kids can play road hockey on ice skates.

  9. Only a Canadian can take a pack of canines that are capable of killing and devouring a full-grown human being in under three minutes and get them to pull him and his belongings through the snow on a sled.

  10. Canadian strip joints have no compulsory G-string law.

  11. Canadian inventions include snowmobiles, jet-skis, velcro, zippers, insulin, penicillin, zambonis, the telephone and short wave radios.

  12. Our currency, which some Americans ridicule as "Monopoly money", is a lot harder to counterfeit than American currency.

  13. Our elections are always resolved within a day.

  14. Canada boasts the only French-speaking soldiers who never surrendered to Germany, or anyone else for that matter.

  15. Finally, those Americans who today look upon Canada as their "poor cousin" have obviously forgotten the war of 1812, when Canadians sacked Washington DC and burned down the White House, then left. We weren't really invading you see; we were just making a point. America had pissed us off by attacking Toronto (known as York at the time) so we went down there, gave them a good bitch-slapping, and went back home to finish the Eaton Center, which was still under construction at the time.

Canadians are a mild-mannered bunch. We don't toot our own horns. We just do what we do and let everyone else get on with their own lives. "Live and let live" is the Canadian way. We may have our quirks, but I can't think of any other country in which I'd rather live.

Happy 144th, Canada!

1 comment:

Martin said...

Ooooh now you've got me started! On the subject of American vs Canadian chocolate bars, I don't buy Hershey products anymore following their shut-down of the Smith's Falls factory in 2007. Hershey wants to sell millions of chocolate bars in Canada but had no problem closing their one remaining (and profitable) factory, shifting production to the States and Mexico. I do buy from Nestle, Cadbury and Laura Secord (who still produce chocolate in Canada).