Today is Canada Day — and I’m in Canada waving around a maple leaf with a bunch of other Canucks (and a few Americans). Celebrations here are similar to Independence Day in the U.S. — flags, speeches, cook outs, fireworks, parades.
Americans enjoy putting Canada down (when they think of Canada at all) because they like to play the role of the bully little brother who knows better. But big sister upstairs can take it — after all, she’s bigger. Maybe not stronger, of course, but she’s got more lakes in which to drown you and more tundra in which to freeze you. Just saying.
As a birthday tribute, here are a few things I love about my home country:
Orthodox. Faithful. Free.
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1) Bloody Caesars. If you’ve never had one, you’re missing out. Think Bloody Mary, but add some clam juice, lots of horseradish, and celery salt around the rim. Make sure you use good vodka. It’s the perfect brunch drink. And if it makes you turn your nose up, you’re a wimp.
2) Potato chips. I have no idea why our best flavored potato chips have never made it down south, but I grew up on ketchup, dill pickle, sour cream n’ bacon, and “all dressed” potato chips. Again, if these make you gag, I can never be your friend.
3) Canadians really are friendly and fun. That’s not just a stereotype, it’s actually true. Canadians are more polite, more laid back, easier to get along with, and they almost never sue anyone. Eastern Canada, where I’m from, can be compared to the American south for its hospitality.
4) It’s gorgeous. There’s a lot of land up here! That’s because the entire population of Canada is about equal to the entire population of California. So when you’re looking for unspoiled nature and you can’t get to Alaska, try coming up here.
5) The French. Sure, you can criticize the French all you want, but they bring culture. The pockets of French communities throughout Canada give it character and flair. Years ago when I was in Old Quebec City (where I learned to love raw oysters for the first time), I could have sworn I was nowhere in the vicinity of North America.
6) Poutine. Speaking of the French, have you tried poutine? I’m not even going to describe it… you need to try it before rendering judgment.
7) The Newfies. If you want to meet the kindest, funniest, and most talented people in North America, travel to the island of Newfoundland. Just don’t go in the winter or you may get stuck there drinking beer and listening to local stories at a village pub for months.
8) It’s clean. Almost everyone I know who’s traveled to Canada says, “I can’t believe how clean it is!” This is because no one litters here. Throwing a wrapper out a window or dropping trash on the ground is akin to savagery. Not cool, and not done. And while there may be far more important issues to be so uptight about, it does make for a clean, aesthetically pleasing situation up here.
9) No one cares about being a Super Power. Sometimes it’s just nice to be in a country that’s used to not being king of the planet.
10) No one disowns me for not liking beer, not caring about hockey, and not yet packing my bags to move home for good.