01 Jul Happy Birthday, Canada!
Canada turned 150 on July 1, and in honour of the occasion, here’s my top 10 most likeable features of this great country.
10) Right next door to the USA.
I’ve gone on holidays to the US, particularly when the exchange rate favours the loonie (which isn’t often, it turns out), with favourite destinations being New York, San Francisco, Chicago, and the home of the Mouse. These days, there’s no reason to leave the armchair, as the US political system now provides endless hours of amusement.
9) Our idioms.
Canadians have their own patois. For example, “it’s some friggin’ cold out, eh?”, translates to “my, it’s chilly today”, and “the arse is clean out of ‘er” which means “it’s broken beyond all utility”. I sprinkle these into my interactions with Americans and Australians to help them appreciate what they’re missing.
There’s so much to like about La Belle Province, from Old Montreal, Old Quebec City, Greek restaurants, the language police. Best of all, they’ve come to their senses about the implausibility of a future through Quexit, and two referendums have put the question hopefully to bed forever. Britons, take note – even the colonies know that there’s safety in numbers.
7) The winter.
Actually, I don’t mind winter, but being an adult in a winter country is like being the janitor on a 6 month long party. You’re constantly shovelling up the debris from all the fun the kids are having. Mind you, there is something undeniably romantic about going for an evening walk in lightly falling snow, but only until the mercury dips into the negative double digits. At that point, it hurts to breathe.
6) Natural beauty.
Justin Trudeau aside, Canada is blessed with its share of inspired naturally beautiful places. In no particular order, my favs are the Rockies, the Okanagan, the ferry passage between Vancouver and Vancouver Island, Niagara Falls, anywhere on Prince Edward Island, the Bay of Fundy, the harbour in St John’s and Old Quebec City. Can’t forget the rivers – the St Lawrence, the Saint John and the Bow. Or the lakes – Canada has great lakes.
5) Polite society.
It’s true that Canadians are deeply apologetic. I apologise when I arrive early for a meeting, I apologise when I’m late for a meeting, and I apologise when the meeting comes to its scheduled end. I think it’s because the country is so big. It should be impossible to intrude on a fellow Canadian’s legitimate enjoyment of life, so when we do, we say “sorry”. I like that.
It’s really safe in Canada. Someone getting food poisoning is so rare that it makes the news. If it comes from a tap, it’s pretty much drinkable. It’s so cold that viruses and bacteria don’t stand a chance. Only the police have guns, and they’re not allowed to fire them. Airplanes stay aloft like they’re supposed to. Of course, everyone has to wear a seatbelt, helmets are mandatory for bikes, and don’t get caught without a life jacket.
3) The wildlife.
Canada has its share of majestic critters, which we acknowledge by imprinting on our coinage. We have beavers on the nickel, caribou on the quarter, loons on the dollar, polar bear on the toonie, the mackerel on the 1967 dime, the wolf on the 1967 fifty-cent piece. Every year, though, some poor Canadian gets terminally mauled by a bear, strangled by a big cat, or gored by a randy elk. We don’t publish this fact.
2) The naughty bits.
What’s naughty about Canada? We jaywalk when we think no one’s looking. We brew high test beer to feed to American tourists. Our Supreme Court decided that if men don’t have to wear shirts, then neither do women. And you can now smoke weed.
1) Other Canadians.
Marj and I wandered Calgary’s downtown festivities commemorating the 150th. No armed guards, no heavy police presence like we saw in Rome, polite lineups to everything from the food trucks to the pavillion teaching Canadians how to tie a turban.
Yep, there’s a lot to like.