I’d never been to Canada before except for a quick drive across the border way back in 1997. We only live about three hours from the Land of the Maple Leaf, but Michigan is far enough north for me. However, when the opportunity arose to escape from my children for a few days, I said, “Yes!”
Some Things Aboot Canada
1. When you arrive at the border the first thing they ask is why you’re coming to Canada. I know you think that’s for security reasons, but actually they’re genuinely curious. Even Canadians know no one really wants to go there between the months of November and March.
2. You’ll be disappointed if you expect the Canadian border patrol agents to be wearing red jackets, wide-brimmed hats and sitting on big horses. (They really should out of consideration for us Americans.)
3. They greeted us in English and French. “Welcome! Bonjour!” Visiting Canada is kind of like watching an English language film with the French subtitles turned on.
4. The metric system will confuse Americans.
“The speed limit is 100! Awesome!”
“What’s a kilometer again?”
“290 kilometers to Toronto. How many kilometers are in a mile?”
“Or is it miles in a kilometer?”
“Let’s not ever move to a foreign country. I don’t want to learn math all over again.”
“The speed limit is like only 60 mph on the freeway. Canadians drive slow.”
“It’s OK if you speed. In a pick up truck we can easily out run a guy on a horse.”
“Well, at least they drive on the right side of the road here.”
“Look how cheap gas is!”
“It’s probably government subsidized, because all Canadians are socialists.”
“Oh, I just remembered. They sell gas by the liter.”
“How much is a liter?”
“Well, it’s half of a two liter.”
“There are three point something liters in a gallon of milk. At least I think that’s what it says on the jug.”
“So if you bought four liters that’s about a gallon so — oh, the price is around the same as home.”
“Can we use Canadian gas in our American car?”
4. Not only are there no mounted police, there aren’t any moose or polar bears either. (Again, can’t they place some along the road for the tourists?) Also, we ate breakfast twice there, and no one offered us Canadian bacon.
5. In the middle of the vast Canadian prairie is a huge, modern city of steel and glass skyscrapers, shining in the night. No one there lives in an igloo, and they don’t drive snowmobiles or dog sleds. They call it Toronto.
6. If your last name is Stout, you have to spell it out for them, because they can’t understand the OU letter blend if you say it with an American accent.
7. Everything that doesn’t have a French or First Nations (Canadian for Native American) name has a British name. We took Queen Elizabeth Way to the Winston Churchill Highway. It all seemed very serious.
8. Canadians really are polite and conscientious. They don’t rush and cut people off in traffic. They take their time getting on and off the subway, and no one honks their horns in the city, not even in a traffic jam.
9. When Dave asked them what their derogatory name for Americans was, it took a while to get them to confess they call us Yanks, and they wouldn’t admit at all to calling us Hosers.
10. When we mentioned hockey, their otherwise quiet and calm demeanor suddenly became impassioned and animated. When we asked for restaurant recommendations the first 10 were sports bars where we could watch hockey, and then they remembered we were American.
11. All the orderliness will make you want to assert your American independent streak, and you’ll feel like rebelling when you go to Tim Horton’s and they want you to sort your trash into five different containers so it can be properly recycled.
12. Remember, while we were throwing tea into Boston Harbor, the Canadians let the British stick around.
13. They put maple syrup on everything. EVERYTHING. I think this might be for the tourists.
14. A lot of the stores, restaurants and anything pop culture related, like Music and TV, is imported from America. Even the TV commercials were the same. Canadians are a little bit British, a little bit French, but I think they really just want to be American. Can you blame them?